Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982

Thoughts on Survival

Let me ask you a general question now about this. You probably have thought about this before. Why do you think you survived?

Oh, I'll try to answer that for you the best I know how. Uh, I suppose uh, uh, we have to believe in God, in spite of everything that happened to us. And uh, I, I believe in God and I think if there was a miracle ever, that it just was uh, a miracle that some of us had to survive. It was His will. Uh, number two, it, it was a question of individual stamina and, and uh, strength and, and behavior, um. I was uh, strong and I really worked, because we were rather poor at home. Uh, I worked already in a factory at home. I was strong and I could handle the physical labor uh, more. The, the elite of the Jewish people, the doctors, lawyers, business people, the, the most educated, they were the first to die, because perhaps emotionally they couldn't handle this and physically they couldn't handle this punishment and all the horrors. I just tried to survive every day. I used to uh, when I was getting weak, I used to observe which labor commando had a little bit a lighter job and then those I would work previously so I squeezed into there for a few days and my labor was a little bit easier. I just had, I knew I had to do something to survive. Uh, otherwise I'd be dead. I wanted to live uh, hopefully that maybe some of my family have survived and then I wanted to live to tell the story, which I have the privilege of doing now. I think those individuals who had the strengths, physical strengths to take the punishments, the, do the labor and survive and those who mentally had the capacity to believe that "maybe I'll survive tomorrow," that "this will end someday," that it's not hopeless and don't, don't give up. That's what kept me going. And, and actually I did survive.

Did you ever, did you continue to think about home or did you just try to block it out?

Uh, well, yes, I, I did. It was too soon to block it out and, and during the, the working hours of the day, during the waking hours, I didn't have nothing else to think about. It was constantly in my mind. It was too new thinking of my family and, and my sisters and brothers and, and all that happened and thinking sometimes uh, that possibly my older brothers somehow might survive. Yes, that was a daily occurrence practically, yes. I, I don't think there was a day in the camp that I didn't feel sorrow and the pain of my family and being apart, away from them and hoping perhaps for miracles, that I'll see them again somehow. I mean...

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